Religion in America

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Today’s New York Times reported more findings from a recent Pew study on religion in America, with attention to the nature of theological tolerance — at least among laypeople.

70 percent of Americans affiliated with a religion or denomination said they agreed that “many religions can lead to eternal life,� including majorities among Protestants and Catholics. Among evangelical Christians, 57 percent agreed with the statement, and among Catholics, 79 percent did.

Among minority faiths, more than 80 percent of Jews, Hindus and Buddhists agreed with the statement, and more than half of Muslims did.

Pew and the NY Times would like us to think this is surprising, but I don’t think it is. Instead, it seems to reflect a survey with poor wording.

I find it hard to believe 80% of Jews would know what you were talking about if you asked about “eternal life” — let alone 80% of Jews believing in eternal life — so forget about 80% of Jews believing that people of other faiths are eligible for eternal life.

To be fair, the NYT article does point out some of the reports seemingly contradictory findings.

My favorite: 1 out 5 atheists believe in God.

Posted on June 24, 2008

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